Dual Degree Project
INVESTIGATIONS ON A THERMOACOUSTIC REFRIGERATOR
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degrees of
Bachelor of Technology & Master of Technology
by
Ram Chandrashekhar Dhuley
Roll No. 05D1
Supervisor
Prof. M. D. Atrey
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay Powai, Mumbai 400076
2010
ABSTRACT
Thermoacoustic Refrigerators use acoustic power for generating cold temperatures. Development of refrigerators based on thermoacoustic technology is a novel solution to the present day need of cooling, without causing environmental hazards. With added advantages like minimal moving parts and absence of CFC refrigerants, these devices can attain very low temperatures maintaining a compact size. The present work describes an indepth theoretical analysis of standing wave thermoacoustic refrigerators. This consists of detailed parametric studies, transient state analysis and a design using available simulation software. Design and construction of a thermoacoustic refrigerator using a commercially available electrodynamic motor is also presented.
CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES 
iv 

LIST OF TABLES 
vii 

NOMENCLATURE 
viii 

1 INTRODUCTION 
1 

1.1 Thermoacoustics 
1 

1.2 Thermoacoustic Refrigerators 
1 

1.3 Objectives of present work 
2 

2 LITERATURE REVIEW 
3 

2.1 Introduction 
3 

2.2 Thermoacoustic Oscillations 
3 

2.3 Thermoacoustic Heat Pumping 
5 

2.4 Linear Thermoacoustic Theory 
7 

2.4.1 Analysis of a Single Plate 
7 

2.4.2 Analysis of Stack of Parallel Plates 
10 

2.4.3 The Boundary Layer Approximation 
12 

2.4.4 Arbitrary Stack Geometry 
13 

2.5 Thermoacoustic Refrigerators (TAR) 
14 

2.5.1 Theoretical Models 
14 

2.5.2 Experimental Work 
17 

2.6 Summary 
18 

3 THEORETICAL ANALYSIS OF A STANDING WAVE TAR 
19 

3.1 
Introduction 
19 
i
3.2
Loudspeaker Driven Gas Columns
19
3.2.1 The Impedance Transfer Technique 
20 

3.2.2 Electrical Network Model of a Moving Coil Loudspeaker 
21 

3.2.3 Dynamic Pressure in a Loudspeaker Driven Gas Column 
21 

3.3 DELTAEC Model 
22 

3.4 Transient State Model of a Standing Wave TAR 
23 

3.4.1 Geometry 
23 

3.4.2 Assumptions 
24 

3.4.3 Governing Equations 
24 

3.4.4 Computational Domain and Boundary Conditions 
26 

3.4.5 Solution Methodology 
26 

3.5 Operating Parameters and Working Gas 
28 

3.5.1 Operating Parameters 
28 

3.5.2 Working Gas 
29 

3.5.3 Stack Material 
30 

3.5.4 Design Choices 
30 

3.6 Geometric Dimensions 
30 

3.6.1 Resonators for Dynamic Pressure Measurements 
30 

3.6.2 Resonator of TAR 
31 

3.6.3 Stack 
31 

4 
FABRICATION AND EXPERIMENTAL SETUP 
32 
4.1 Introduction 
32 

4.2 Acoustic Driver 
32 

4.2.1 Fabrication 
33 

4.2.2 Assembly 
38 

4.3 Resonators for Dynamic Pressure Measurement 
39 
ii
4.4
Refrigeration Assembly
39
4.4.1 Fabrication 
41 

4.4.2 Assembly 
47 

4.5 Experimental Setup and Instrumentation 
48 

5 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 
50 

5.1 Introduction 
50 

5.2 Theoretical Results of the Transient State Model 
50 

5.2.1 Comparison with Numerical Integration 
50 

5.2.2 Transient Temperature Profiles 
52 

5.2.3 Cooldown Curve 
56 

5.2.4 Cooldown 
Characteristics of Working Gases 
57 

5.3 Dynamic Pressure Measurement s 
60 

5.3.1 Driver Parameter 
60 

5.3.2 Resonance Frequency of Half Wave Resonators 
61 

5.3.3 Effect of Operating Frequency on Dynamic Pressure 
61 

5.3.4 Effect of Charging Pressure and Working Gas on Dynamic Pressure 
62 

5.3.5 NonLinear Effects 
63 

5.4 Experimental Results 
65 

6 CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE SCOPE 
70 

6.1 Conclusions 
70 

6.2 Future Work 
71 
REFERENCES
PUBLICATIONS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
iii
LIST OF FIGURES
PAGE
1.1 
Schematic of a Thermoacoustic Refrigerator 
1 

2.1 
Configurations for study of thermoacoustic oscillations 
3 

2.2 
Production of pressure oscillations is a hollow pipe by means of heat 
4 

2.3 
Thermoacoustic heat pumping 
6 

2.4 
A solid plate kept in an acoustic field 
7 

2.5 
The real and imaginary 
parts of T _{1} (y) 
9 
2.6 
A stack of parallel plates 
10 

2.7 
Various pore geometries studied by Arnott et.al 
13 

2.8 
The hexagonal unit cell of a pin array stack 
13 

2.9 
Real and imaginary parts of Rott’s Function for various pore geometries 
14 

3.1 
Electrical circuit representation of a loudspeaker with an acoustic load 
21 

3.2 
Schematic of a resonator with a nonuniform cross section 
22 

3.3 
Schematic of the geometry for Transient State Analysis 
24 

3.4 
Heat flowing in and out of a cell of ‘stack’ region 
26 

3.5 
Grid representation of computational domain 
27 

4.1 
Schematic of the acoustic driver assembly showing various components 
32 

4.2 
Ferrite disc magnet and soft iron pole pieces 
33 

4.3 
The voice coils used for present work 
34 

4.4 
Schematics of Supporting Rings 
35 

4.5 
Schematic of the Mounting Flange 
36 
iv
4.6
Schematic of the Back Jacket
37
4.7 
Attachment of voice coil to the suspension 
38 
4.8 
Suspending the voice coil in the magnetic gap 
39 
4.9 
Schematic of the refrigeration assembly showing various components 
40 
4.10 
Stack manufacturing process: Wooden plank with slits on the edges 
41 
4.11 
Schematic of the Stack Holder 
42 
4.12 
Schematics of Heat Exchangers 
43 
4.13 
Schematic of the resonator Tube 
44 
4.14 
Schematic of the conical buffer volume and the connecting flange 
45 
4.15 
Schematic of the warm HX mounting flange 
46 
4.16 
Schematic of vacuum jacket mounting flange 
47 
4.17 
The TAR assembly ready for operation 
48 
4.18 
Schematic of the experimental setup and allied instrumentation 
49 
4.19 
Experimental setup in operation 
49 
5.1 
Comparison of FDM and Numerical Integration results 
51 
5.2 
Transient temperature profiles from time t=30 s to t=120 s 
53 
5.3 
Transient temperature profiles from time t=240 s to t=960 s 
53 
5.4 
Transient temperature profiles from time t=2400 s to t=9600 s 
54 
5.5 
Transient temperature profiles from time t=10800 s to t=21600 s 
55 
5.6 
Temperature profile at t=36000 s 
56 
5.7 
Cooldown curve for cold HX 
56 
5.8 
Variation of cold HX temperature for different gases 
58 
5.9 
Variation of current with operating frequency 
61 
5.10 
The dynamic pressure in a resonator as a function of operating frequency 

for Helium and Nitrogen 
62 
v
5.11
The dynamic pressure for different charging pressures of Helium and Nitrogen
63
5.12 The waveforms observed on oscilloscope representing dynamic pressure in
Nitrogen resonator at different voltage levels 
64 
5.13 Cooldown curves for different charging pressures 
65 
5.14 Dynamic pressure during cooldown measurements 
66 
5.15 Cold end temperature and temperature lift for various charging pressures 
67 
5.16 Response of cold end temperature to heat load: DeltaEC model of Hofler’s 

TAR 
68 
vi
LIST OF TABLES
PAGE
2.1 
Operating, design parameters and material properties (Herman et.al) 
14 
2.2 
Hofler’s operating parameters and stack dimensions 
17 
2.3 
Tijani’s operating parameters and stack dimensions 
17 
2.4 
Performance of thermoacoustic refrigerators 
18 
3.1 
Operating parameters, working was and stack material properties 
30 
3.2 
Dimensions of TAR resonator 
31 
5.1 
Operating parameters and dimensions of various components 
52 
5.2 
Properties of gases at 308 K, 10 bar 
60 
5.3 
Driver parameters 
60 
vii
NOMENCLATURE
Symbol
Meaning (SI Unit)
p 
pressure (N m ^{}^{2} ) 

T 
temperature (K) 

f 
frequency (Hz) 

ρ 
density (kg m ^{}^{3} ) 

a 
sound speed (m s ^{}^{1} ) 

λ 
wavelength (m) 

k 
wave number (m ^{}^{1} ) 

ω 
angular frequency (rad s ^{}^{1} ) 

γ 
ratio of specific heats 

δ _{k} 
thermal penetration depth of gas(m) 

δ 
_{s} 
thermal penetration depth of plate (m) 
δ 
_{v} 
viscousl penetration depth of gas(m) 
β 
thermal expansion coefficient (k ^{}^{1} ) 

k 
thermal conductivity (W m ^{}^{1} k ^{}^{1} ) 

C _{p} 
isobaric specific heat (J kg ^{}^{1} k ^{}^{1} ) 

Γ 
normalized temperature gradient 

f 
Rott’s function 

s 
specific entropy (J kg ^{}^{1} k ^{}^{1} ) 



Q 
c 
cooling power (W) 
W acoustic power (W)
COP
coefficient of performance
viii
L
length of resonator (m)
L _{s} 
length of stack (m) 

ε _{s} 
Thermal Effusivity 

l 
half plate thickness (m) 

y _{0} 
half plate 
spacing (m) 
П 
wetted perimeter (m) 

x _{s} 
stack centre position (m) 

x 
Local xcoordinate (m) 

A 
Area of cross section (m ^{2} ) 
Subscripts
m 
mean 
a 
amplitude 
1 
local amplitude 
s 
Solid (plate) 
n 
normalized 
r, res 
resonator 
Other Symbols
~ Complex Conjugate
Re[ ] 
Real Part of [ ] 
Im[ ] 
Imaginary Part of [ ] 
ix
Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Thermoacoustics
Thermoacoustics is the interaction between heat and sound. It explains how energy in form of heat can be converted to sound or how sound waves can be used to generate cold temperatures. The pressure and displacement oscillations in a sound wave are accompanied by temperature oscillations. For an adiabatic sound wave propagating through an ideal gas, the temperature oscillations, T _{1} are related to the pressure oscillations p _{1} , [1] as:
T
1
γ
− 1
p
1
=
T
m
γ
p
m
(1.1)
where T _{m} and p _{m} respectively, are the mean temperature and pressure of the medium, and γ is the specific heat capacity ratio. In medium like air at STP and pressure amplitude of ordinary conversation (~ 60 dB), the magnitude of temperature oscillations is about 10 ^{}^{4} ^{o} C and go undetected by human senses [1]. Working at high pressure amplitudes, the thermal interaction of sound waves with a different medium, a solid for instance can result into sufficiently large amount of heat exchange between the fluid and the solid.
1.2 Thermoacoustic Refrigerator (TAR)
A thermoacoustic refrigerator pumps heat from low temperature to high temperature region using energy of sound waves. Schematic of a thermoacoustic refrigerator is shown in Figure 1.1.
Figure 1.1 Schematic of a thermoacoustic refrigerator.
1
The source of acoustic energy is called ‘acoustic driver’ which can be a loudspeaker. The acoustic driver emits sound waves in a long hollow tube filled with gas at high pressure. This long hollow tube is called ‘resonance tube’ or simply ‘resonator’. The frequency of the driver and the length of the resonator are chosen so as to get a standing pressure wave in the resonator. A solid porous material like a stack of solid plates is kept in the path of sound waves in the resonator.
Due to thermoacoustic effect (explained in detail in section 2.2), heat starts to flow from one end of stack to the other. One end starts to heat up while other starts to cool down. By controlling temperature of hot side of stack (by removing heat by means of a heat exchanger), the cold end of stack can be made to cool down to lower and lower temperatures. A refrigeration load can then be applied at the cold end by means of a heat exchanger.
‘Thermoacoustics’ is a ‘green’ and a new technology. The working medium of TAR is an inert gas. There is no need of conventional refrigerants like CFCs that pose hazards to the environment. TAR has minimal moving parts and no valves to regulate fluid flow. Once designed efficiently, they require very less maintenance. Because of use of acoustic power, the pressure difference between which a TAR operates is very small. This means TAR can find immense application where noise or vibration can’t be tolerated. Besides this, they have no close tolerances and can be fabricated from easily available materials.
1.3 Objectives of present work
The aim of present work is “To design and develop a Standing Wave TAR driven by a loudspeaker, capable of cooling to a temperature near 250 K”.
The principal objectives of the project are as stated under:
1) To theoretically investigate the effect of different operating parameters and working gas on TAR performance, so as to come up with a suitable TAR design.
2) To develop a TAR setup driven by an available electrodynamic loudspeaker motor. This involves suitable modifications of the motor, design and fabrication of various TAR components, assembly and experimental investigations.
2
Chapter 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Introduction
The two well known thermoacoustic effects thermoacoustic pressure wave generation and
thermoacoustic heat pumping are very well explained by the classical Linear Theory of
Thermoacoustics [2]. The Linear Theory has also been successfully implemented in
development of practical prime movers and refrigerators. This chapter begins by giving a
brief insight to the above mentioned thermoacoustic effects. It then explains the Linear
Thermoacoustic Theory of Thermoacoustics in detail. The chapter also presents important
theoretical and experimental advances in the field of Thermoacoustic Refrigeration.
2.2 Thermoacoustic Oscillations
The study of thermoacoustic oscillations has a rich and interesting history. Bryon Higgins
[1,3] (1777) made the first observations of thermoacoustic oscillations. A organ pipe open at
both ends started to emit sound when it was heated at certain locations along its length.
Sondhauss [3] (1850) made experimental investigations of heat generated sound when
blowing a hot glass bulb at the end of a cold glass tube. Rijke [3] (1859) found that strong
sound oscillations can be generated in an open ended hollow tube by keeping a heated wire
mesh screen at a quarter length distance from open end. The experimental configurations for
study of thermoacoustic oscillations are shown in Figure 2.1.
a) Higgins Tube
b) Rijke tube
c) Sondhauss tube
Figure 2.1 Configurations for study of thermoacoustic oscillations [3]
3
Theoretical study of thermoacoustic oscillations began in 1868 when Kirchoff [1] calculated
acoustic attenuation in a duct due to oscillatory heat transfer between solid isothermal duct
wall and the gas sustaining the sound wave. The first thorough qualitative description of
thermoacoustic oscillations was given by Lord Rayleigh. In his work, “The Theory of Sound”
[3] (1877), he stated:
“If heat be given to air at the moment of greatest condensation or taken
from it at the moment of greatest rarefaction, the vibration is encouraged.”
Yet another type of oscillations was observed by Taconis [3]. When one end of a hollow pipe
was dipped in liquid nitrogen and taken out, other end being held at ambient, the pipe began
to “sing”. Sound was emitted continuously till the temperature of cold end became
sufficiently high.
The generation of sound wave due to temperature difference across a hollow pipe can be
understood from Figure 2.2. The kinetic energy of the gas near the heated area is much more
than that of the gas far away in the pipe. The hot gas molecules accelerate towards the cooler
end of the tube (Figure 2.2a), thereby creating an area of relative low pressure at the heated
end. The cooler other gas molecules accelerate towards the hot end to fill the area of low
pressure (Figure 2.2b). These molecules are then heated, and the cycle continues (Figure
2.2c). The result is a series of longitudinal air pressure oscillations. By choosing proper heat
rate, heating location and length of the pipe, strong pressure oscillations can be generated.
(a)
(b)
(c)
Figure 2.2 Production of pressure oscillations in a hollow pipe by means of heat.
4
2.3 Thermoacoustic Heat Pumping
Although the production of sound or pressure pulses by application of heat has been a subject of study over last two centuries, the reverse phenomenon i.e achieving heat transport by means of interaction of an acoustic field with a solid medium is more recent. Heat transport process at inner wall of a hollow tube enclosing an acoustic field was demonstrated by Gifford and Longsworth [4] (1966) in their device called the “Pulse Tube”. This “Basic Pulse Tube” is the precursor of widely studied modern day Pulse Tube Cryocoolers. Theoretical study of heating at the closed end of a hollow tube in which small gas oscillations were maintained, was done by Rott [2] (1984). It was based on linear theory of acoustic oscillations. The indepth study of thermoacoustic heat pumping process was started at The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in America by The Condensed Matter and Thermal Physics Group in 1980s.
The formation of temperature gradient due to acoustic oscillations along the length of a plate can be understood from Figure 2.3 [1,4]. Consider a solid plate placed in an acoustic field with direction of particle oscillation along its length. Suppose the pressure antinode (region of maximum pressure variation) is near the left end of the plate and the pressure node (region of zero pressure variation) is near the right end of the plate. The mean temperature of the plate as well as the gas is T _{m} and mean pressure of the gas is p _{m} . A typical gas parcel oscillates over a distance 2x _{1} about its mean position. Its pressure varies between p _{m} – p _{1} and p _{m} + p _{1} . The activity of a typical gas parcel is shown below in Figure 2.3 (ad).
a)
5
b)
c)
d)
Figure 2.3 Thermoacoustic heat pumping process.
Referring to Figure 2.3(a), the gas parcel at the right end absorbs acoustic power and moves by a distance ‘2x1’ to the left. During this displacement it gets compressed and its temperature rises. This parcel then loses heat to the plate till its temperature equals that of the plate (Figure 2.3(b)). As a result left end of the plate becomes a little warmer. The parcel then moves again to right end where its pressure as well temperature falls (Figure 2.3(c)). The cold parcel warms up by picking heat from right end of the plate, making the right end of the plate colder (Figure 2.3(d)). Thus, in one cycle the gas transports ‘dQ’ amount of heat over a temperature difference of ‘2x _{1} _{∇} T _{m} ’, absorbing ‘dW`  dW’ amount of acoustic power. Eventually, the left end of stack heats up and the right end cools down.
6
2.4 The Linear Theory of Thermoacoustics
The Linear Theory of Thermoacoustics was developed by Rott [2]. It was later reviewed by
Swift [1,4] who also extended it to the nonideal cases of practical thermoacoustic prime
movers and refrigerators. This section presents the theory given by Rott and Swift.
2.4.1 Analysis of a Single Plate
As mentioned in Chapter 1, temperature oscillations accompany pressure oscillations in an
adiabatic acoustic field. Consider a solid plate kept in a fluid (a gas in general), aligned
parallel to the direction of vibration of the standing wave as shown in Figure 2.4. Due to
solidfluid interaction, two phenomena occur:
1) a time averaged heat flux near the surface along the direction of acoustic vibration
2) absorption or generation of real acoustic power near the surface of the plate.
Suppose the length of the plate is ∆x, width is Π/2 and the thickness is very small. The
acoustic field vibrates along x and the local pressure and velocity of oscillation at any position
x are respectively given by,
p
1
u =i
1
= p
p
a
a
ρ
m
a
sin(
kx
)
cos(
kx
)
(2.1)
(2.2)
where ‘i’ represents 90 ^{0} phase difference between pressure and velocity oscillations due to
standing wave phasing. The mean temperature of the plate as well as the fluid is T _{m} .
Figure 2.4 A solid plate kept in an acoustic field. The length of plate is ∆x along x, Π/2 along z and negligible along y axis. (Reproduced from [1])
7
Following assumptions are made in the analysis:
1) The length of the plate is very small as compared to the wavelength of the acoustic
field (∆x<<λ) so that the pressure and velocity oscillations over the entire plate can be
assumed to be uniform.
2) The thermal properties of gas as well as the plate do not vary with temperature.
3) The fluid is nonviscous so that the viscous boundary layer is absent and oscillatory
velocity does not vary along y direction.
4) Heat capacity of the plate is very large as compared to the gas so that the gas at
plate surface behaves isothermally (temperature oscillations of the gas very near to the
plate are zero).
5) Heat conduction by solid as well as gas along x direction is neglected.
6) A uniform temperature _{∇} T _{m} exists along the plate in x direction.
The equation governing the energy flow through the fluid is the general equation of heat
transfer given by:
v
(2.3)
T
ρ
∂ s
t
∂
+
.
∇
s
= ∇
.(
k
∇
T
)
Writing eqn(2.3) in terms of oscillatory quantities s _{1} and T _{1} (the entropy and temperature
oscillations repectively),
(2.4)
∂
s
1
∂
x
∂
2
T
1
)
ρ
m
T
m
(
i
ω
s
1
+
u
m
)
=
(
k
∂ y
2
where u _{1} is the oscillatory velocity in xdirection.
Substituting the oscillating entropy in terms of oscillating pressure p _{1} , and oscillating
temperature T _{1} as:
(2.5)
c
p
T
m
T
1
−
β
ρ
m
p
1
s
1
=
a second order differential equation in T _{1} is obtained as given below:
i
c T
ω
p
1
−
k
2
d T
1
dy
2
=
i
T
ω
m
β
p
1
− ρ
m
c
p
∇
T u
m
1
(2.6)
Here, ω is the frequency of oscillations while β is the thermal expansion coeffieicnt of the gas.
With an isothermal boundary condition at the plate (y=0) and finite value of temperature
oscillation at very large distance from plate (y= ∞ ), the expression for temperature oscillations
can be found out as:
(2.7)
=
T
m
β
ρ
m
c
p
p
1
−
∇
T
m
u
1
ω
(1
T
1
−
− e
(1
+ i
)
y
/
δ
k
)
8
where
δ
k
=
2 K
ρ
m
c
p
ω
1/2
(2.8)
is the ‘thermal penetration depth’ of the gas and is defined as the length of gas through which heat diffuses in time 1/ω. The first term in T _{1} is due to the adiabatic compression and expansion in the fluid (as would exist if there was no plate) and the second comes into being because of the temperature gradient along the plate. At a certain value of _{∇} T _{m} , the temperature oscillations vanish for all y. This value is called as the ‘critical temperature gradient’ and is given by,
=
(2.9)
T
m
βω
p
1
∇
T
crit
ρ m
c u
p
1
The expressions for the heat flux per unit area and acoustic power absorbed/produced per unit volume or fluid surrounding the plate are given respectively by,
(2.10)
1 Im[
2
q
2
=
ρ
m
c
p
T
1
]
u
1
w
2
= −
1
2
ωβ p
1
Im[
T
1
]
(2.11)
Both the quantities depend on imaginary part of T _{1} . As can be seen from Figure 2.5, the imaginary part of T _{1} starts from zero at y=0, becomes maximum at y~δ _{k} and again vanishes for y>> δ _{k} . That is to say, the heat flux and the acoustic power absorbed/generated are predominant in the region y~δ _{k} from the plate surface. Both vanish at distances very close and very far from the plate.
Figure 2.5 The real and imaginary parts of T _{1} (y). (Reproduced from [1])
The total heat flux and the acoustic power absorbed/generated can be found by integrating eqns. (2.10) and (2.11) in whole of the region surrounding the plate. They are given by,
Q
1
= −
2 4
∏δ T β p u
k
m
1
9
1
(
Γ −
1)
(2.12)
W
2
=
1
4
∏
δ
k
∆ x
T
m
2
β ω
ρ
m
c
p
p
1
2
(
Γ −
1)
(2.13)
where Γ is the ratio of actual temperature gradient to the critical temperature gradient. An
important point is to be noted here. When Γ <1 (a small temperature gradient along the plate
which is less than the critical temperature gradient), the expression of W _{2} has a negative sign
indicating that acoustic power is being absorbed near the plate. In this case, Q _{2} is positive i.e
heat is being transported from pressure node to pressure antinode (heat pumping). On the
other hand, when there is a large temperature gradient along the plate ( Γ >1), heat flows from
pressure antinode to pressure node and acoustic power is produced. In a very special case
when Γ =1, no power is absorbed or produced and the heat flux is zero. Hence, three modes
of operation can be classified:
1) Γ <1 : Heat pump or refrigerator (acoustic power getting absorbed)
2) Γ >1 : Prime mover (acoustic power getting generated)
3) Γ =1 : No practical significance (acoustic power is zero)
2.4.2 Analysis of a Stack of Parallel Plates
In this section, the analysis of a single plate is extended to a stack of parallel plates as shown
in Figure 2.6. The fluid is assumed to have arbitrary viscosity with Prandtl number σ, and the
fluid and solid plates respectively have thermal conductivities K and K _{s} . Thus, this analysis
brings the Linear Theory of Thermoacoustics closer to real refrigerators and prime movers.
Figure 2.6 A stack of parallel plates. Each plate has a thickness 2l and spacing between plates is 2y _{0}_{.} (Reproduced from [1])
The solid plates have a thickness 2l and spacing between plates is 2y _{0} . The stack is oriented in
the direction of acoustic oscillations x. The equations governing the analysis are the
continuity equation:
(2.14)
∂ ρ + ∇ ⋅
∂ t
(
v)
ρ
=
0
10
the momentum equation:
ρ
∂ v
t
∂
+
(
v
⋅∇
)
v
= −∇
p
+
∇
µ
2
v
and the energy equations for the fluid and the plate:
T
ρ
(
∂
s
∂ t
+
v
ρ
s
c
s
⋅∇
∂
s
T
s
∂
t
)
= ∇⋅
=
k
∇
s
(
2
k
∇
T
s
T
)
(2.15)
(2.16)
(2.17)
The time dependent variables appearing in the above equations can be written as:
v
=
p
=
ρ = ρ
m
ˆ
xu
1
(
x
,
T
T
s
=
=
T
m
T
m
s
=
s
m
p
m
(
x
)
+
p
1
(
x e
)
i
t
ω
+ ρ
1
(
x
,
y e
)
i
t
ω
y e
)
(
(
x
x
)
)
(
x
)
i
t
ω
+
+
+
+ ˆ
yv
T
1
(
x
,
T
s 1
(
x
s
1
(
x
,
1
,
(
x
,
y e
)
y e
)
i
t
ω
y e
)
i
t
ω
y e
)
i
t
ω
i
t
ω
(2.18)
(2.19)
(2.20)
(2.21)
(2.22)
(2.23)
Substituting these expressions into the governing equations and integrating the resulting
expressions in the stack region yields the Thermoacoustic wave equation:
1 +
(
γ
−
1) f
k
1
+
ε
s
p
1
+
ρ ma 
2 
d 

1 − f v 
dp 
1 

2 ω 
dx 

ρ m 
dx 
−
2 
f k 
− f v 
dT m 
dp 

β 
a 
1 

2 
(1 
) 
dx 
dx 

ω 
− σ )(1 + 
ε s 

=
0
(2.24)
and the equation of energy flux through stack cross section:
H
2
=
∏
y
0
2
ωρ
m
Im
dp
1
dx
×
Im
p
1
f
v
1
−
f
T
m
β
(
f
k
−
f
v
)
)
+
(
f
k
v
−
(1
+
f
v
)(1
ε
s
)(1
+
σ
)
+
ε
s
f
v
/
f
k
(1
+
ε
s
)(1
+
σ
)
−
+
∏ y c
0
p
dT
m
dp
1
dp
1
2
3
ω ρ
m
(1
−
σ
)
dx
dx
dx
− ∏
(
y k
0
+
lk
s
)
dT
m
dx
where f _{k} and f _{v} are the Rott’s functions for temperature
and viscosity given by:
f
k
f
v
=
=
tanh[(1
+ i
)
y
0
/
δ
k
]
(1
)
+ i
y
+ i
tanh[(1
0
)
/
y
δ
k
0
/
δ
v
]
(1
+ i
)
y
0
/
δ
v
11
(2.25)
(2.26)
(2.27)
and ε _{s} is the heat capacity ratio of the fluidsolid system,
ε
s
=
ρ m 
c 
p δ k 
tanh[(1 
+ i ) y 
0 
/ 
δ k ] 

ρ s 
c 
s δ s 
tanh[(1 
+ i ) y 0 
/ 
δ s ] 
(2.28)
Due to viscosity of the gas, the viscous penetration depth comes into picture. It is the distance
from plate surface in which the viscous effects are predominant. The viscous penetration
depth is given by,
(2.29)
δ
v
=
2.4.3 The Boundary Layer Approximation
The boundary layer approximation [1,4] states that the half plate spacing is large as compared
to the thermal penetration depth of the gas (y _{0} >>δ _{k} ) and the half plate thickness is large as
compared to the thermal penetration depth of the solid plate (l>>δ _{s} ). The use of this
approximation is to set the hyperbolic tangents appearing in eqns. (2.262.28) equal to one
which simplifies the thermoacoustic wave and energy flux equation to a great extent. These
(2.30)
(2.31)
The first term in eqn. (2.30) is the hydrodynamic flow of heat due to the thermoacoustic effect
while the second term accounts for the heat flow along the stack due to conduction in gas and
solid. The net acoustic power absorbed/generated in the stack with the boundary layer
approximation is given by:
W
2
=
∆ x 
( γ − 
1) ω p 1 
2 
× 
Γ 

δ ρ m ∆ x 
2 a 
(1 + 
ε s ) ωρ m u (1 2 1 
+
σ

)(1 − 
δ v 
/ 
y 
0 
+ 
δ v 
2 
/ 2 
y 
0 
2 
) 

v 
(1 
− δ v 
/ 
δ v 
2 
/ 2 
2 
) 

y 0 
+ 
y 
0 
δ
k
∏
1
∏
1
4
4
−
12
− 1
(2.32)
In eqn.(2.31), the first term represents the acoustic power absorbed/generated in the stack
while the second term accounts for the dissipation of acoustic power in the viscous layer
which is converted to heat (a loss).
2.4.4 Arbitrary Stack Geometry
A general formulation of thermoacoustics for stacks having arbitrarily shaped pore cross
section was given by Arnott et.al. [5]. Expressions for oscillatory temperature, pressure and
velocity were formulated for a stack with arbitrary shaped pores. Using these expressions, the
heat and work flows in geometries like parallel plate, circular pores, hexagonal pores,
equilateral triangular pores and rectangular pores were developed and compared. It was
concluded that the parallel plate stack gave optimum heat and work flows. The stack
geometries studied by Arnott et.al are shown in Figure 2.7
Rectangular Pores
Equilateral Triangular Pores
Figure 2.7 Various pore geometries studied by Arnott et.al.(Reproduced from [4])
A new stack geometry, ‘pin array’ was analyzed by Keolian et.al.[6]. Analytical expressions
for the oscillatory temperature and velocity for the pin array geometry were derived by using
Arnott’s general formulation. It was shown for given set of parameters, the performance of
pin array stack was better than other geometries. The unit cell of pin array geometry and the
Rott’s function for various geometries are shown in Figure 2.8 and Figure 2.9 respectively.
Figure 2.8 The hexagonal unit cell of a pin array stack. (Reproduced from [5])
13
Figure 2.9 Real and imaginary parts of Rott’s functions for parallel plates, circular pores and pin array stack. (Reproduced from [5])
2.5 Thermoacoustic Refrigerators (TARs)
Swift’s review paper [1] led to development of many practical thermoacoustic refrigerators.
Some of important theoretical and experimental findings are described in this section.
2.5.1 Theoretical Models
A design algorithm for TAR was given by Herman et.al [7]. Various operating and design
parameters were indentified by the authors as shown in Table 2.1. To reduce the complexity
of theoretical expressions due to a large number of variables, normalization technique was
implemented.
Table 2.1 Operating, design parameters and material properties
Operating 
Design Parameters 
Material Properties 

Parameters 
Design requirements 
Stack geometry 
Working gas 
Stack 

p _{m} 
Mean 
T _{c} 
Cold end 
L 
_{s} 
Stack length 
µ 
Dynamic 
ρ 
_{s} 
Density 

Pressure 
Temperature 
Viscosity 

f 
Operating 
T 
_{h} 
Hot end 
x _{s} 
Stack center 
k 
Thermal 
k 
_{s} 
Thermal 

Frequency 
Temperature 
position 
Conductivity 
conductivity 

p _{1} 
Pressure 
Q _{c} Cooling Load 
l 
Half Plate 
γ 
Cp/Cv ratio 
C 
_{s} 
Specific Heat 

Amplitude 
Thickness 
Capacity 

T _{m} 
Mean 
W 
Input Acoustic 
y _{0} 
Half Plate 
a 
Sound Speed 

Temperature 
Power 
spacing 

A 
Cross section 

14 
The simplified expressions for cooling power and acoustic power in terms of normalized parameters are respectively given by,
where
Q cn
W
n
= −
δ kn
D
2 sin(2
x
ns
)
(1
8
γ
+
σ
)
Λ
×
∆ T
mn
tan(
x
ns
) 1
+
+
σ
( γ
−
1) BL
sn
1 +
−
(1
+
=
δ
kn
L
sn
D
2
4 γ
(
γ
−
1)
B
cos
2
(
x
ns
)
×
∆ T
mn
tan ( x
ns
)
BL
sn
(
γ
−
1)(1
+
Λ
−
0.5
2
σδ
kn
− 1
The design algorithm is as follows:
−
(2.33)
(2.34)
(2.35)
Step 1: Choose the operating parameters such as mean pressure (with the constraint of material strength), mean temperature, frequency, and the pressure amplitude. The pressure amplitude should be low enough so as not to induce turbulence. This is ensured by keeping the acoustic Reynold’s number less than 500 [1]. The acoustic Reynold’s number is given by,
Re
a
=
u δ ρ
1
v
µ
(2.36)
Choose the working gas and stack material. From the calculated values of thermal penetration depth, find plate spacing of the stack. The optimized plate spacing is equal to twice the thermal penetration depth [1]. Assuming porosity, find plate thickness. Step 2: Define stack COP as COP=Q _{c}_{n} /W _{n} . The stack COP becomes a function of only two variables viz. L _{s}_{n} and x _{s}_{n} . For different values of x _{n}_{s} , the values of COP are plotted with L _{s}_{n} and optimal COP in each case is found out. Step 3: Choose an optimum COP from the set and corresponding L _{s}_{n} and x _{s}_{n} . From the values of required cooling power Q and expression of normalized cooling power, calculate stack cross section area. Step 4: Calculate the resonator length so as to obtain a standing wave phasing between oscillatory pressure and velocity. The lengthfrequency relation is given by,
L
=
n
a
4 f
15
n = 1,3,5,
(2.37)
Step 5: Determine the lengths of cold and hot side heat exchangers using the values of displacement amplitudes and the cold and hot exchanger locations respectively. The optimal length equals twice the displacement amplitude [1]. The porosity of heat exchangers should
be equal to that of stack to prevent any discontinuity in gas flow passage.
Step 6: Apply 1 ^{s}^{t} Law to resonatorstackHXs system and choose a suitable loudspeaker/acoustic driver which can pump in the required acoustic power.
A computational model of thermoacoustic refrigerators for performance prediction at steady
state was given by Jebali et.al. [8]. The components of refrigerator were represented in terms of acoustic network elements viz. compliance, inertance, viscous resistance, thermal
relaxation conductance and attenuation factors. The one dimensional cross section averaged equations were discretized using the network analogy. The frequency response of the model indicated maximum cooling power near the resonance frequency. A similar study was also made by Qiu et.al. [9]
Worlikar et.al [10,11] developed a low Mach number numerical model for simulating the flow inside the thermoacoustic refrigerator stack. The dependence of energy loses due to stack configurations and operating conditions was examined.
A simulation program DELTAEC (Design Environment for Low Amplitude Thermoacoustic
Energy Conversion) was developed by Ward and Swift [12]. Based on DELTAEC, a design
optimization program was developed by Paek et.al. [13]. It was shown that COPR of thermoacoustic refrigerators is maximum at about 80 K temperature lift.
An analytical model to study transient temperature profile inside thermoacoustic refrigerator stack was given by Lotton et.al [14]. The contribution of various heat transfer processes like thermoacoustic heat transport, longitudinal conduction, radial heat leakage, heating due to vorticity etc during the transient regime was studied. The analytical results were obtained by fitting in empirical heat transfer coefficients. It was verified that at steady state, the thermoacoustic heat flux is balanced by the returning longitudinal conduction.
A model describing the heat transfer between elements of thermoacoustic refrigerators stack
and heat exchangers was given by Brewster et.al [15]. Forced heat convection due to acoustic
oscillations was identified as the main heat transfer mechanism. For low amplitudes of
16
oscillations, the magnitude of heat transfer coefficient was proportional to the local amplitude
of oscillatory velocity.
2.5.2 Experimental Work
The first fully functional thermoacoustic refrigerator was designed and built by Tom Hofler
[16,17]. The loudspeaker driven refrigerator employed Kapton as the material for stack and
Helium as the working gas. Lowest temperature ratio achieved by Hofler was 0.66 while the
optimum COP was 12 % of Carnot COP. The operating parameters and stack dimensions of
Hofler’s refrigerator are given in Table 2.2.
Table 2.2 Hofler’s operating parameters and stack dimensions
Operating parameters
Stack Dimensions
Mean Pressure Frequency Drive Ratio Mean Temperature Hot end temperature 
10 bar 
Plate Thickness Plate Spacing Length Cross Section Area Centre Location 
0.08 mm 0.38 mm 0.08 m 0.0012 m ^{2} 0.09 m 
500 Hz 

3 % 

255 K 

300 K 
Based on the design algorithm given by Herman et.al., Tijani et.al. designed [18] and
constructed [19] a loudspeaker driven thermoacoustic refrigerator. The effect of blockage
ratio on performance of refrigerator was studied experimentally by varying the plate spacing
[20]. It was observed that maximum heat flux occurs when plate spacing was twice the
thermal penetration depth. By using binary mixtures of inert gases [21], the effect of Prandtl
number was studied. A 3070 mixture of XeHe with a Prandtl Number of 0.2 gave optimum
results. A technique to optimize the loudspeaker to drive a given refrigerator was given by the
authors [22]. The lowest temperature reported was 65 ^{o} C. The operating parameters and stack
dimensions are given below in Table 2.3.
Table 2.3 Tijani’s operating parameters and stack dimensions
Operating parameters
Stack Dimensions
Mean Pressure 
10 bar 
Plate Thickness 
0.1 mm 
Frequency 
400 Hz 
Plate Spacing 
0.3 mm 
Drive Ratio 
2 % 
Length 
0.085 m 
Mean Temperature 
250 K 
Cross Section Area 
0.00118 m ^{2} 
Hot end temperature 
283 K 
Centre Location 
0.08 m 
17
Adeff et.al. [23] used reticulated vitreous carbon (RVC) as the stack material. The
performance of RVC stack was found comparable to plastic roll stack and the lowest
temperature ratio obtained was 0.82.
An experimental research to study the effect of operating parameters was carried out by
Nsofor et.al. [24]. The maximum cooling load was obtained at the resonance frequency. It
was also shown that an optimal mean pressure existed for maximal cooling load.
Scalability of thermoacoustic refrigerators was studied analytically and experimentally by Li
et.al. [25]. It was found that scaling down of thermoacoustic refrigerators was limited by heat
conduction.
A flow through thermoacoustic refrigerator was developed by Reid et.al. [26]. A steady mass
flow was inlet to refrigerator at one of the pressure nodes and was outlet from another. A
20 % increase in COP was observed as compared to closed refrigerators.
Besides these, several other refrigerators were developed by various research groups. Details
of some notable refrigerators are given in Table 2.4.
Table 2.4 Performance of thermoacoustic refrigerators
Name 
∆T ( ^{o} C) 
T _{c} ( ^{o} C) 
Q _{c} (W) 
COPR 
Prototype at Purdue University [13] Frankenfridge [27] Triton [13] Ben & Jerry cooler [13] 
8.9 
15.6 
40 
0.033 
10.8 
17.2 
26 
0.067 

18 
10.4 
2161 
0.04 

58.5 
24.6 
119 
0.22 
2.6 Summary
It can be summarized from the literature that the theory of standing wave thermoacoustics is
well established. Several theoretical models as well as simulation softwares to forecast the
performance of a TAR at steady state are also available. However, there are only a few
notable instances [3,13,16,27] where a fully functional standing wave TAR is designed,
constructed and experimentally investigated. Similarly, there is only one instance available
[14], where the transient state temperature profiles inside the stack of a TAR are reported.
18
In view of this, it is decided to design and develop a standing wave thermoacoustic refrigerator capable of cooling to temperatures near 250 K. Due to time limited design data on acoustic drivers, a commercially available electrodynamic motor will be used. All other components of the refrigerator would be designed to adapt to the available motor. The effect of operating parameters on TAR performance at steady as well as transient state would be investigated theoretically and experimentally.
19
Chapter 3
THEORETICAL ANALYSIS OF A STANDING WAVE TAR
3.1 Introduction
A standing wave TAR can be divided into two major subsystems – the heat pumping
assembly and the driver assembly. The heat pumping system consists of the stack, the two heat exchangers and the resonator. The driver assembly consists of a magnetvoice coil based electrodynamic motor and a pusher cone suitably constructed for thermoacoustic refrigeration.
This chapter is divided into three parts. The first part describes a theoretical model of a loudspeaker driven straight gas column. This can be thought of a TAR assembly void of the stack and the heat exchangers. The resonance frequency and dynamic pressure generated in the gas column can be predicted using this analysis. Due to observed nonlinear effects in straight resonators, it is concluded that a resonator with nonuniform cross section be used. The second part of this chapter describes the design of this new resonator using an available software, DeltaEC. Finally, in the third part, an iterative method is developed to predict the thermodynamic performance of a TAR configuration.
3.2 Loudspeaker Driven Gas Columns
In order to predict the thermodynamic performance of a TAR, it is first essential to determine
the dynamic pressure that the available acoustic driver can generate. Other than the driver
parameters which are introduced in following subsection, the dynamic pressure depends on the charging pressure, the working gas and the operating frequency of the system. The
theoretical prediction of the dynamic pressure is done using the impedance transfer technique. This technique enables one to calculate the effective acoustic impedance of the load at the driver piston, and its resonance frequency. The electrical network model of a moving coil loudspeaker is coupled with this acoustic impedance model so that the dynamic pressure can
be directly computed as a function of input electrical voltage to the system.
20
3.2.1 The Impedance Transfer Technique
Consider a straight hollow channel of length ‘L’ and uniform cross section area ‘A’, filled with a gas at pressure ‘p _{m} ’ and temperature ‘T _{m} ’. The speed of sound in the gas is ‘a’. A source of acoustic wave (acoustic driver) is attached to one end of the channel at x=0. When an acoustic wave with an angular frequency ‘ω’ propagates through this channel, the acoustic impedance at any location ‘x’ in the channel is given by:
Z
ac
(
x
)
_{=}
p
1
(
x
)
Au
1
(
x
)
(3.1)
where, p _{1} (x) and u _{1} (x) are the oscillatory pressure and velocity at location ‘x’. The transfer function giving the acoustic impedance at location ‘x’ in terms of acoustic impedance at any other location ‘x`’ is given by [3] :
where,
Z
ac
(
x
) =
Z 
ac ( 
x 
') cos k 
( 
x 
' − x ) + jZ 
c sin 
k 
( x 
' − x 
) 

j 
Z 
ac 
( x 
') 
sin 
k 
( 
x ' − x ) 
+ 
cos k 
( x 
' − 
) 

x 

Z c 

Z c 
= 
ρ ω m 

Ak 
(1 − f v 
) 

(3.2)
(3.3)
Here, ‘k’ is the wave number and ‘f _{v} ’ is the complex Rott’s viscosity function [1] denoting the loss of acoustic power at the walls of the channel. A rigidly sealed end at x=L would result in a location of infinite acoustic impedance. In this case, the acoustic impedance at the driver piston would be:
Z
ac
= −
j
ρ ω
m
Ak
(1
−
f
v
)
cot
kL
(3.4)
This complex acoustic load resonates when its imaginary part is zero. The relation between the channel length, the frequency and the sound speed for fundamental resonance mode is:
L =
π
a
ω
(3.5)
As can be seen from eqn(3.4), the acoustic impedance of a given geometry depends on the density of the working medium. Thus, it can be varied by changing the mean pressure, mean temperature or the medium itself. However in practice, it is not feasible to vary the mean temperature of the working medium.
21
3.2.2 Electrical Network Model of a Moving Coil Loudspeaker
A simple moving coil loudspeaker consists of an electrical conductor coil suspended in a
radial magnetic field. When excited by an alternating current, the coil reciprocates
perpendicular to the plane containing the magnetic field and current, producing a Lorentz’s
force. A diaphragm or a piston attached to the reciprocating coil causes periodic compressions
and rarefactions in the surrounding medium, thereby producing an acoustic wave. A
representation of moving coil loudspeaker in the electrical network form is shown in
Figure 3.1 below:
Figure 3.1 Electrical circuit representation of a loudspeaker with an acoustic load.
Traversing from right to left in Figure 3.1, the first element is the acoustic impedance of the
load at the driver piston. The centre block represents the mechanical part consisting of the
moving mass M _{m} , stiffness K _{m} and mechanical resistance R _{m} of the loudspeaker. The leftmost
block is the electrical part, comprising of the electrical resistance R _{e} and inductance L _{e} of the
coil. The transduction coefficient ‘Bl’ converts the electrical energy to mechanical energy,
while the piston surface area ‘S’ converts mechanical energy into acoustic energy. The
electroacoustic efficiency of a loudspeaker can be maximized by making the mechanical part
and the acoustic part resonate at a same driving frequency [28]. The total electrical impedance
of the loudspeakeracoustic load circuit between the two terminals of ac power source is given
by:
Z
e
=
R
e
+
j
L
ω
e
+
( 
Bl 
) 
2 

R m 
+ 
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